Native Writers Circle Of The Americas First Book Award For Poetry These poems rise from the smoke of a Council Fire. Around the fire gather many nations of the world, some angry, some at peace. The nations’ emissaries accept invitations to stand together at the Fork-in-the-Road Indian Poetry Store and turn rhythmically to the four cardinal directions, so that the earth can regain its balance. Facing East, the ambassadors see Flags of Mercy hanging over New York City and Nagasaki, then encounter and embrace a manic-depressive Native Hawaiian-Cherokee medicine man in Oklahoma City. Traveling closer to the moon and stars they fly with a dreamer in the Garden of the Bumblebees, and they listen in Weleetka, Oklahoma, to the last two living speakers of Yuchi. Turning North, the councilors ice skate with post-Vietnam revolutionaries on glacier lakes in Idaho. They chase grouse in snow two feet deep, ponder dormancy in hyphenated winters and university libraries, and learn the best way to build a fall fire. Facing West, they lie on cool, creek bed vulvas of earth in sweltering Great Plains summer, navigate a wilderness river in canoes, and kiss a lover at dawn in the Chihuahan desert. Finally, turning in the divine direction South, the emissaries hear The Story of The Seeds, a journey back to 1540, to the conquest of Mabila by De Soto. In a stream of survival, they emigrate with Choctaws on trails of tears from Mississippi to Oklahoma, before sharing big ripe melons in the delta of the Vegetable River. They finish their revolution facing east again, just before dawn.
‘In Phil Carroll Morgan’s poetry seeds watch over dreams, vines tell the story of conquest, and gourds, oh lord, the gourds, excuse us from observing the sabbath. Morgan is the farmer every Indian wishes he could be: living on his family's original allotment, one hundred and ten acres of it still intact, his relatives defending it against internal and external threats such as “the Dawes commission, two world wars, the great depression, a period of alcoholism, three marriages, and two divorces.” He's the farmer I want to be, coming in from the woods to a house he built with his own two hands (doesn’t owe any money to the man, one of his songs proclaims), filling the place with the music of his considerable talents as a pianist and guitar player, bringing one kind of music, off in the treeline, inside, carrying his own songs back out like a missionary, teaching them to every living creature. In such an environment even Blue, the cow dog, can't help but sing his own ode to joy in defiance of ravenous coyotes. And you will too, friends, because these poems won't sing without you. They carefully chronicle the history of an allotment, and its human and non-human relatives, who have survived the Territory.’ —Craig S. Womack
‘Phil Morgan is one who reveres his heritage and his literary ancestors, and that reverence is found throughout this first, glorious collection. Yet there is a new wisdom in his poetry that is somehow familiar, though we never saw—or even thought of— this beauty before he revealed it. The journey of a snail or the light of cold: this book is a gift, a mystery, an illumination.’ —Honorée Fanonne Jeffers